Thursday, January 10, 2019

Commissioners REJECT PASSPORT LABS, INC. "Confidential" Contract for parking app in St. Augustine Beach

Our St. Augustine Beach neighbors filled City Hall January 8th and won victory over the dodgy proposed PASSPORT LABS, INC. "Confidential" contract to provide, at 35 cent "convenience fee" per parking session, paid smartphone app and telephone credit card payments for 300 parking spaces.

NO PASSPORT LABS, INC. corporate representative showed to defend the propose contract.  Last month, PASSPORT's saleswoman promised to return in January.

Monday night, 33 witnesses testified against 300 paid parking spaces proposed by St. Augustine Beach City Manager BRUCE MAX ROYLE, the dotty man who sometimes sleeps in meetings.

The PASSPORT LABS, INC. smartphone paid parking scheme appears to violate:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act, with NO spaces for disabled persons.
  2. Florida Sunshine law, with NO  mandatory Open Records clause required by F.S. 119.0701,  and illegal "confidentiality" clause (Section 19).
  3. Violates fiduciary duty, with NO business plan.
  4. Violates property rights, and neighbors' right to peaceful quiet enjoyment.
  5. Equal protection clause, discriminatory allowing free parking for specific favored businesses on City property, but charging workers and residents to park on other city property.
  6. Violates worker rights, diminishing minimum wage employees pay on parking fees.
  7. Violates the equal protection and due process clauses.

Hearing the voice of the people, Commissioners:
  • DECLINED to agree to PASSPORT's unconscionable adhesion contract of adhesion in violation of public policy
  • ENACTED an ordinance allowing the City Manager to designate zones for future paid parking.
  • AGREED no one should be required to use an app or credit card for parking.
  • AGREED tentatively there should be free parking for residents.
  • AGREED there must be disabled spaces before proceeding with the plan.
  • AGREED that staff must:
1)     Check with the SJC to see why the bulldozer is not smoothing down the beach.
2)     Ask the City of St. Augustine is working with SJC on their paid parking.
3)     Write a new pro forma for paid parking.
4)     Write a business plan.
5)     Write a thank you to all the residents that attending last night’s meeting and put it on the website.
6)     Have monthly updates with SJC and keep involved with what they are doing.
7)     Keep the task list going.
8)     Work with County Commissioner Henry Dean to get his status report.
9)     Have updated parking item on each agenda.
10)  Have meeting with Royle, Melissa Burns, Chief Robert Hardwick, Anthony Johns, and you to discuss when Parking Enforcement Specialist should be hired.
11)  Have Code Enforcement Officer write violations if a transient rentals have too many cars at the rented location.
12)  Have the map on paid parking done quickly or accelerated.
13)  Discuss whether to have a resident workshop with staff regarding paid parking and who will be doing it.
14)  Send Commissioners weekly updates on the status of conversations with SJC, County Commissioner Dean, City of St. Augustine, and staff regarding paid parking.

Inexplicably absent: NO PASSPORT LABS, INC. corporate representative showed, as was promised last month.

Other no-shows at the tense packed meeting where IT Director Anthony Johns: after my e-mail on the contract, there was no presentation or suggestion to adopt the unconscionable contract of adhesion in violation of public policy.

Here's what former Mayor Sherman Gary Snodgrass said to me in a text message, which I read to Commissioners:

As to parking, it's most likely a matter of when, not if. Any such efforts should be planned and coordinated with the County. Why should the City go first? Makes no sense. We all do it together or none of us do it. All legal requirements including ADA provisions should be met before any such effort is launched. There should be agreement on use of potential net fees and cost of compliance/operation should be carefully controlled. Use net fees for specific capital projects such as piping, roads or park development. Value added projects not just "part of the budget". Go slow to run faster later.

Happy New Year -- what  do you reckon?

Unadorned by any discussion of disabled parking spaces, here's spin from St. Augustine Record:

St. Augustine Beach parking plan stalled, but still on tap

By Sheldon Gardner
Posted at 2:01 AM
St. Augustine Record
January 10, 2019

Just about everyone who spoke at a St. Augustine Beach meeting this week opposed the city’s plans to charge people to park in the city.

While commissioners decided to revisit parking rates after hearing from residents, they’re still moving ahead with the effort to put a paid parking system in place this year possibly in coordination with St. Johns County.

“If they actually listen to the residents, that’s not even an option,” beach resident Laurel Dean said Wednesday.

Dean was among more than 30 people who spoke at Tuesday’s special meeting. In addition to contesting the city’s right to implement its plan, she showed commissioners the results of an online survey she created. The survey showed that about 94 percent of more than 300 people voted against paid parking at the beach. Some people who took the survey don’t live or own property in the city.

Dean seemed to sum up the sentiment of many in the room when she ended her presentation.

“Take this whole plan and park it,” she said.

The special meeting began with a packed house, with some people standing up and others watching the meeting on a TV from the hallway outside because of the crowd.

People said they were concerned about family and friends having to pay to visit them. Some accused the city of being mismanaged. Some pleaded with the Commission to consider minimum wage workers who would have to pay to park and go to work.

Marla Ward, who technically lives in St. Johns County but is about a mile from the coast of St. Augustine Beach, was among those who opposed the plan on Tuesday. Ward spoke with The Record on Wednesday.

“I really don’t want to pay for parking. ... I probably will tend to go somewhere else to avoid it, honestly. I don’t go downtown because of the parking situation very often,” Ward said.

The only item that formally moved ahead on Tuesday is an ordinance that will allow the city manager to create or change zones for paid parking, and it allows parking rates, fines, payment methods and enforcement hours to be set by the City Commission via resolution. The ordinance will come back to the Commission for another vote.

Several decisions are still ahead for the city.

The future depends in part on what St. Johns County does. The county, which controls the pier, is considering implementing paid parking at the pier parking lot, City Manager Max Royle said. Commissioners want to implement the city’s system in coordination with the county’s effort if possible.

The Commission has yet to formally pass rates or sign a contract with a vendor to implement a pay-by-phone system. After Tuesday’s comments, commissioners asked for the city to look into parking discounts for local employees and deeper discounts for local residents, including the possibility of free parking for city residents.

The Commission had previously supported charging hourly rates from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. of $2.50 an hour for non-residents, $1.25 for St. Augustine residents and 50 cents for St. Augustine Beach residents.

Mayor Undine George said commissioners expect to have updates on the plan at the Commission’s February meeting.

George said growth has put pressure on the city and its expenses, including maintaining parking spaces. Charging for parking allows the city to have tourists share the cost, she said.

“If we don’t do anything then we’re going to have the same level of service, which (I) guarantee you will continue to degrade as the extra use is made from the ongoing increase of tourism, or we will have to increase the residents’ taxes because everything else is going up.”

Will county follow (sic) St. Augustine Beach and charge for off-beach parking?

By Stuart Korfhage
Posted at 2:01 AM. January 10, 2019
St. Augustine Record

With St. Augustine Beach apparently moving forward on a plan to charge for city lots near the beach, beach-goers will now look to see what the county will do with its lots.

Right now, it’s an open question.

St. Johns County spokesman Michael Ryan said the county has been studying the issue of charging to park in lots around the ocean for several years. But so far, it has not settled on any plan.

It will be an interesting situation should the city of St. Augustine Beach implement a pay-for-parking plan before the county does because the most viable parking lot in the city is actually a county lot at Pier Park.

At Tuesday’s Beach Commission meeting, City Manager Max Royle indicated that he was under the impression that the county was planning to bring a paid parking plan to the County Commission in April and then implement it by the summer.

Ryan said the Commission has given the administration direction to prepare a request for proposal for paid parking plans. He said that will go out probably in February, and the county will take proposals for 60-90 days.

As for bringing a polished proposal before the board, Ryan said that won’t happen until “late spring/early summer.” But nothing will be implemented until and if the Commission chooses to charge for parking.

“We have direction to put out an RFP and explore what the program could potentially look like,” Ryan said. “Right now, the RFP will explore all of those opportunities and see what kind of proposals come back to us. That gives us the opportunity to look at the highest and best proposal that fits our needs.”

The County Commission hasn’t voted on any specific details of a parking plan.

“We are not as far along as the Beach is,” Ryan said. “They have moved at a slightly more rapid pace than we have.”

So at this point, it’s impossible to say whether the county will have any kind of off-beach parking fee system. And if it does have one, it’s much too early to say which lots will be included and what kind of system might be used — like an all-digital payment system, parking meters, lot attendants, etc.

That means there’s no guarantee that the system chosen by the Beach will match the county system if the county decides to begin charging for parking.

“We do look for opportunities to work together where possible,” Ryan said. “Early on there was some discussion on: Is there a way to integrate all of the parking into one program? Those discussions were all preliminary.

“That was certainly under consideration for convenience sake.”

While it’s impossible to say what the commissioners will do once they have a proposal in front of them, they have shown a willingness to charge user fees for recreational activities in order to pay for maintenance, service and infrastructure improvements.

They’ve recently discussed charging a fee for the use of boat ramps.

The county already charges a fee for driving and parking on the beach, and county residents are able to purchase annual passes.

“This Commission during the past couple of years has trended toward a more user fee-based system of funds and revenue,” Ryan said. “Us exploring off-beach parking fees is just one more step in that direction.”

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